Germany has granted asylum to a university student who was arrested for “rioting” in connection with last year’s pro-democracy protests, an activist group has said.

The German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees granted a three-year refugee status to a 22-year-old unidentified Chinese University of Hong Kong student last Wednesday, according to a Facebook post by activist group Haven Assistance. They said it followed an 11-month wait.

Photo: Viola Kam/United Social Press.

She told Haven Assistance that she was grateful to the German government for granting her asylum, adding that the authorities provided food, clothing, shelter, transportation and basic medical services during her stay: “However, if the German government could consider simplifying the asylum application process for Hong Kong protesters, such as allowing them to choose freely their place of residence while waiting for the decision… it would be of great convenience and support to them,” she said.

The group quoted the woman as saying she was arrested on suspicion of rioting last year and fled Hong Kong in November.

Before she attained refugee status, the woman also claimed she was sexually assaulted by a refugee camp staffer in Germany and was hospitalised due to emotional issues.

Lifeboat policies

Haven Assistance has urged European countries to improve their asylum processes and consider implementing a comprehensive lifeboat policy for Hongkongers.

Hong Kong Watch Senior Policy Advisor Sam Goodman also suggested that Berlin should reform its refugee camps and EU member states should honour their promise of facilitating Hongkongers to work and study in Europe as part of a lifeboat policy. The German government, he suggested, could expand its working holiday visa and the EU Erasmus study scheme.

“It demonstrates the German government’s commitment to stand up for human rights and its recognition that – under the national security law – many Hongkongers face political persecution, arbitrary arrest and detention if they stay in the city,” Goodman told Haven Assistance.

Pro-independence group Hong Kong Indigenous founder Ray Wong and his colleague Alan Li were granted asylum in Germany in 2018. They became the first political refugees from Hong Kong to be resettled in a European country.

This handout courtesy of Ray Wong taken in June 2018 and released on May 22, 2019 shows activists Ray Wong (L) and Alan Li posing for a photo in Berlin. Photo: AFP Handout.

Wong – the 27-year-old activist – together with several activists in-exile including Simon Cheng, Lam Wing-kee and Brian Leung founded Haven Assistance in July. It followed the enactment of the national security law in Hong Kong. The group aims to offer case-by-case advice to Hongkongers seeking asylum or other migration options.

A spokesperson for the German Federal Office told HKFP that they could not comment on individual cases but asylum applications are considered “on the basis of the personal interview and of a detailed examination of documents and items of evidence…”.

They said that between January and September this year, two asylum applications were made by applicants from Hong Kong. During the same period, three Hong Kong asylum applications were considered with one receiving a positive result.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Wong and Li were granted asylum in 2019 as opposed to 2018.

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Rachel Wong

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.